From Iceland — WHY I BOTHER - PART II


Published August 3, 2011


Ok. So in part one I told you good people about some quite infuriating examples of misogyny in the Icelandic media. I even explained why they were infuriating, why the things that journalists, representatives of the justice system, and the police were saying were actually sexist, hurtful, degrading and plain fucking wrong. So here’s part two. And yes, there’s going to be a part three. I promise.
I’d like to keep explaining why I bother, why I can’t help being a hard-core militant feminist all day, every day. This time I’d like to focus on the international media—meaning news stories of misogyny that make it all the way to Iceland through the intrawebs and the power of social media.
Let’s have a look at British MP Ken Clarke. In case you don’t know, here’s what happened: Ken explained, in an interview with BBC Radio 5, to us women, to us who have been raped, to us feminists, to all of us who don’t know better, how there was an obvious difference between being ‘raped’ and actually being raped. It’s a long and complicated story that you should Google. Here’s the short version: He’s pushing for a proposal for rapists’ sentences to be halved if they plead guilty. Meaning: confession should pay off. Makes sense, in a way. But (and this is a big ‘but’) in a BBC Radio 5 interview, he implied that date rape didn’t really count. He said that the tariff was quite long when the crime in question was “a serious rape with violence and an unwilling woman.” The interviewer then interrupted him to say that, “With respect, rape is rape.” To which he replied: “No, it’s not.” He later apologised in that classic appalling way, saying something along the lines of being sorry IF he had offended someone. Blaaaah.
And along came British MEP Roger Helmer with a blog entry confirming his status as village idiot. (Remember his very homophobic tweet from last January? No? He wrote: “Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to ‘turn’ a consenting homosexual?” No kidding. Google it.) Trying to weigh in on Ken Clarke’s remarks, he described a “classic stranger rape” scenario, where a “masked individual emerges from the bushes, hits his victim over the head with a blunt instrument, drags her into the undergrowth and rapes her, and then leaves her unconscious, careless whether she lives or dies.” He then described date rape thus: when a woman “voluntarily goes to her boyfriend’s apartment, voluntarily goes into the bedroom, voluntarily undresses and gets into bed, perhaps anticipating sex, or naively expecting merely a cuddle. But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says ‘Stop!’ The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on.” Now, Helmer might not agree, but to me it seems like the ‘young man’ in question is forcibly having intercourse with an unwilling woman. And that, my friends, is a  big fucking deal.
Let’s check out a part of the whole Dominique Strauss Kahn fiasco: the sexual violence story of the year. Here’s a real hotshot, a high-profile, handsome and adored politician with a history of massive chauvinism, debauchery, womanizing and even violence, from a country with a heavy tradition of not talking about these things. They’re ‘personal.’ You know. And here comes this nobody, this lower class immigrant, who blatantly says: He assaulted me. The world sticks by her for a few weeks but before you know it, there are news reports saying she’s a prostitute, she actually knows people currently serving prison sentences and she lied on her application when seeking asylum in the US. Oh, yeah, and the charges will probably be dropped. And here’s why this is a problem for me: Her vagina was bruised, her clothes were torn, her shoulder was cut and his DNA was found on her and around her. His semen was there. Newsflash: It’s quite possible to rape prostitutes and the fact that you lied while seeking asylum does not mean that you’re likely to accuse an innocent man of an attempt to rape. Really.
You see, this is what we’re up against. Women are constantly being told that sometimes it’s almost OK to rape them. There’s a whole world of trouble out there. I can’t stop fighting it. I won’t stop fighting it. 

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